Saturday, April 4, 2020

Do you know your pistol's zero?

I periodically check the zero on my SIG P320 carry pistol with my carry ammunition, the Hornady Critical Duty 9mm 135 grain FlexLock standard pressure round. I always zero the optic for the Critical Duty round and then confirm the iron sights.

I have had good results from the Critical Duty standard pressure round in every pistol in which I have tried it. In my pistols, the standard pressure round is typically a little more accurate than the +P version. The fact that the FBI and the Texas Department of Public Safety (state police) also use a similar round is a happy coincidence. For several reasons, you should carry the round a national law enforcement agency or your state or local police carry, if possible.

Although many Internet commandos will debate this, I believe you should always carry factory ammunition for personal defense. When you purchase this ammunition, try to buy several boxes from the same lot. After you load your magazines for carry save at least five rounds in the box. If you ever find yourself in a short range defensive situation, the forensics examiner can use the ammunition sample from the lot that you have saved to verify distances with powder testing. Large ammunition makers keep samples for each lot for exemplar testing for 10 years as well. The forensic examiner cannot verify distances with handloads because there is no un-biased sample to measure it against.

Carry ammo is expensive. Reloading your ammunition can provide a more economical practice round for matches and training. The opportunity to develop a load that matches the point of impact for your carry ammunition is an added plus.

Several years ago, I developed a reload that effectively shot to the same point of impact as the Hornady Critical Duty standard pressure in my SIG P320 every day carry pistol. Always zero your sights for the carry round and then work the reload to match the carry round.

The pictures below show the results of this zero session. The black and orange aiming dots in each picture measure 3/4 inch. I fired the shots in the picture with the black dot from a makeshift rest at 15 yards. The day was sunny with the wind gusting unpredictably. The shots with the red circles represent the Hornady Critical Duty shots. The ammo likely would have done better without me struggling a bit with with the wind.

I fired the shots in the picture with the orange dot from a standing position at 10 yards once the wind calmed down. The shots with the red circle represent the Hornady Critical Duty rounds with a group well under one inch.

The other shots in each picture are from my reloads. I was satisfied with the reloaded ammunition’s point of impact in comparison with the Hornady Critical Duty.

Being able to match your reloads to your carry ammunition is one of several advantages reloading offers. Reloading can be very satisfying and can save you money as well. Of course, safety protocols are always important to consider and follow. If you are completely new to reloading, there are a variety of books and online information that can help you get started. Click here for an article that discusses some reloading tips and tricks I've learned over the years through my own experience and that of others.

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